After three years as head football coach and two as assistant principal at Amherst Steele High School, Bill Fishleigh is leaving to accept a central office position in an undisclosed district.
An effective date for his resignation in Amherst has yet to be determined.
“Things are definitely on the rise,” he told the News-Times. “The new football coach is going to come into a great community and school and inherit a team that’s hungry and ready to win. This was a tough decision but there’s brighter times ahead here in Amherst.”
After going 2-8 and 0-10 in his first two years, the Comets went 3-7 in 2016.
None of those wins, though, rang louder than a 54-13 defeat of Berea-Midpark on Sept. 16. Not only was it the team’s first victory in two years, but it also came the day after State Highway Patrol trooper Kenneth Velez was struck and killed by a motorist during a traffic stop.
The late trooper’s son, Christian Velez, played in the game for Amherst and registered a solo tackle on a kickoff return that onlookers said caused the stadium to shake with cheers.
“It was a very special and bittersweet moment,” said Fishleigh. “I think it really showed what high school sports is all about: being with your teammates and being part of a community. It’s not always about wins and losses. The purity of moments like that is why we’re in love with sports and especially high school sports.”
The coach said he could not have been more impressed by Velez’s strength during such a tragic time.
“I was just happy for him,” he said. “I have no clue how he got the courage up to play the game and to be successful in the game was another bright spot. It inspired me. He’s a special young man who has a bright future here and wherever he decides to go.”
Athletic director Casey Wolf said Fishleigh will be missed and the Comets are better off after having him as coach.
“Bill did a tremendous job here,” he said. “A solid foundation has been set for our kids going forward. He’s shown them the amount of hard work it takes to give themselves the best chance to succeed. It didn’t always show in wins and losses, but he’s put this program on a great path.”
There is no timetable to fill the coaching position but the search will begin immediately, Wolf said.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photo by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Bill Fishleigh has resigned from his position as head football coach and assistant principal at Amherst Steele High School.